Monday, August 31, 2009
Due to the exclusive nature of this production, no additional interviews with the participants will be allowed until their return on Tuesday afternoon.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
A rain soaked afternoon in the backyard of a Suitland home was the setting for the rescue of a beloved family member. On Friday, August 28, 2009, at about 2:00PM, Prince George’s County Firefighters answered the call from a resident in the 3400 block of Glenn Drive where his 3-year-old dog, Kujo, had crawled underneath the rear wooden porch and fell into an abandoned well. The dog barked and cried as the 30-foot deep well was already filling with rain water from the heavy storms that were occurring.
A risk analysis was rapidly assessed of the situation with incident commanders deciding to attempt the rescue with the safety of personnel paramount to any other concern. The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Department uses a risk versus benefit approach with rescues whereas we will risk-a-lot to save-a-lot. Firefighters understand the emotional and important role a pet has in the fabric of a family, however, the risk of placing a firefighter into a potentially hazardous situation was taken into account and constantly evaluated during the course of this incident. Firefighters went to work to rescue the 120 lb., Presia Canario, Kujo.
The Department’s Technical Rescue Team was summoned to the scene to perform the rescue. This team of firefighters has received training in confined space rescues such as this. Incident Commanders discussed the risk versus benefit decision and agreed that no member would be exposed to any risk that would be greater then that when the team is conducting a drill. Safety of all members was reinforced throughout the entire incident.
Firefighters set up for their rescue operation as the distressed Kujo constantly reminded them where he was by barking and whimpering. The wooden deck was dismantled to allow access to the well opening. Rescue operations included the application of fresh air into the confined space and a series of ropes and pulleys were set up. Fire Fighter Travis Lambert, a member of the Technical Rescue Team, wearing a safety harness was lowered into the well. Once at the bottom, he was able to apply a rescue harness to a cooperative Kujo. Upon Fire Fighter Lambert’s command, at about 5:15 PM, the dog and the dog’s new best friend were lifted up and out of the well where Kujo was reunited his owner. The dog’s owner stated, “The firefighters just lifted him out of his grave, thank you.”
Thursday, August 27, 2009
More station reductions, more paid and volunteers needed, Jones says
by Daniel Valentine Staff Writer - Gazette Newspaper and Gazette.net
BRENDA AHEARN/The Gazette
Fire Chief Eugene Jones is attempting to keep the county's fire and emergency medical services operating effectively in the face of budget woes. Jones became chief of the fire department this summer.
Jones, who was appointed to chief of the Prince George's County Fire and EMS Department this summer, first learned he would be taking over the job one week before he replaced Lawrence Sedgewick, who had resigned in February.
Though local officials and union leaders have worried that the move will reduce local response, Jones and staff say the nearby staff is able to overlap coverage, making the system more effective.
It hasn't been without a few flare-ups. Jones' appointment before the County Council in July was marked by a rare note of disapproval from the county's union for firefighters and paramedics, who said the cutbacks have compromised "the safety and quality of services … at levels we've never seen before."
The reductions at neighborhood stations are also hitting home with local governments and residents, who have been coming out to community meetings worried about their local coverage for emergencies.
"It's quite challenging to be a volunteer," he said. "Even though I've never been one. They're just as capable. They just play a different role."
More struggles lie ahead, Jones said, adding that the county is likely to scale back service at other stations as it attempts to reconcile staffing and need. That could lead some local stations to shut down, a move that never resonates well in a community.
But as more people have moved to new subdivisions and communities, the old stations in Prince George's towns don't have the same prime location as new stations set for Landover, Brandywine, Bowie, Jones said.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Battalion Chief Kenneth McSwain (Kenny) was in a serious car accident on August 20, 2009. Kenny is recovering well at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Unit in Baltimore and will be transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital at 102 Irving Street NW, Washington DC this afternoon. This is great news given the initial prognosis that he would probably not be transferred for at least two more weeks. Kenny is in great spirits and said “the level of support is overwhelming.” Information on visiting hours and terms will be released as soon as this information is agreed upon with the Hospital. We ask that you limit visitation until more information is provided. Please keep Kenny McSwain and his family in your prayers during this time of recovery. All well wishes can still be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Any additional questions can be sent to Firefighter Anthony Anderson at 240-882-3892.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Firefighters commenced operations with advancing hoselines for an interior attack on the fire and ensured all civilians were evacuated from the building. Heavy fire conditions were soon located in the attic/cockloft and Incident Commanders requested additional fire/EMS resources. A Second Alarm was sounded bringing a total of about 50 firefighters, medics, command officers and support staff on-board about twenty pieces of apparatus and vehicles to the scene.
It required about 45 minutes to declare the fire under control. A firefighter sustained an injury to his shoulder and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. There were no civilian injuries, however, several families will be displaced and are being assisted by the Fire/EMS Departments Citizens Services Unit, Red Cross and apartment complex management in providing temporary shelter. Twenty-three residents from 7 families are being placed at the Howard Johnsons in Cheverly by the Red Cross.
Fire Investigators believe that a lightening strike ignited the fire which resulted in an estimated $500,000 in fire loss.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Fire Investigators from the Prince George’s County Office of the Fire Marshal returned to 1501 Southern Ave, better known as Byrne Manor, to conduct an Origin and Cause determination. On July 28th, the day of the fire, Investigators were unable to get into certain areas due to structural instability of the building. These areas were examined on Thursday, August 20, 2009, by the Office of the Fire Marshal and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), with the assistance of heavy equipment from the County Department of Public works and Transportation (DPW&T) and the Fire/EMS Departments Apparatus Maintenance Division. The Office of the Fire Marshal is now classifying this fire as Arson. While removing debris, a very alert operator of the Gradall noticed a litter of kittens. The litter was uninjured and removed from the building to safety.
Fire Investigators have also determined that a fire that destroyed an Upper Marlboro house on June 15, 2009, has also been classified as Arson. This fire occurred in the 100 Block of Stan Fey Drive. Fire Investigators were assisted by an Anne Arundel County Fire Accelerant Detection/Arson Dog, ATF as well as officials from Nationwide Insurance Company on Monday, July 20, 2009, when a large crane and small bull dozer were brought on site to remove debris from the basement of the house to allow personnel an opportunity to continue their Origin and Cause determination
A joint investigation of these incidents will continue with the Office of the Fire Marshal and ATF, Baltimore Field Division. Anyone with information about these incidents is encouraged to contact Fire Investigators. Callers wishing to remain anonymous should call in to the Arson Tip Line, 301-77ARSON or Prince George’s County Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). You may also text “PGPD plus your crime tip” to CRIMES (274637) on your cell phone or go to www.pgpolice.org and submit a tip online. Tips provided to Crime Solvers may be eligible for a cash reward.
Update by Major Rudy Thomas on Thursday at 9:15 PM.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
McSwain was flown by Maryland State Police Trooper 2 to Baltimore Shock Trauma where he is being treated for multiple injuries including extremity fractures and soft tissue injuries. Family members, Department officials and friends are currently at the hospital.
Lt Col. Tyrone Wells, brother-in-law of McSwain, provided an update at 9:00 AM. Kenny’s injuries have been stabilized and are considered serious non-life threatening. Kenny is still in the Trauma Unit and will undergo 6 to 8 hours of surgery today to repair the injuries. He will be in a recovery room until sometime tomorrow. It is expected that his stay in the hospital will extend up to 2-weeks with an unknown period of rehabilitation after that.
Only immediate family members will have brief moments to be with Kenny over the next 24 hours as he begins his recovery from his injuries and surgery. The family is not discouraging anyone that feels the need to be at the hospital to visit as they may wish.
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones is monitoring Kenny’s status and receiving updates from personnel at the hospital. He stated, “Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes to Kenny McSwain and his family during this time of recovery. It is at times like these that we realize that our co-workers are more then just co-workers – they are members of our extended family and we are personally affected by their pain, on or off duty.”
Battalion Chief Kenneth D. McSwain, a 19-year member of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department is married and the father of two girls. His current assignment is the Commander in the Fifth Battalion which includes Oxon Hill, National Harbor, Fort Washington and Accokeek. Media and the public may recall McSwain as the calming voice heard on the radio as the incident commander at the Penn-Mar Shopping Center explosion. He conducted numerous media interviews the day of and day after the incident.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
On Wednesday, April 8, 2009, at about 2:00 AM, Public Safety Communications received a report of a house fire at 87 Herrington Drive, Largo. Firefighters arrived to find a fire involving a vehicle under a carport with fire extension into the house. During the battle to extinguish the blaze one of the first arriving firefighters, Fire Fighter/Medic Daniel McGown, became disorientated and subsequently fell unconscious inside the burning structure losing the protection of his complete face piece and breathing air. A safety device on McGown’s personal protective equipment emitted an audible warning to firefighters signaling that he was in distress. The downed firefighter was quickly located by other firefighters and removed from the structure. Fire Fighter/Medic Daniel McGown suffered 2nd degree/Partial thickness burns across face and ears, Corneal (eye) abrasions consistent with smoke injury, 1st degree burns from shoulders up, and super heated air inhalation.
Fire Investigators have determined that this was a set fire with an estimated fire loss of $200,000.00.
After following many leads and with the assistance of local and federal authorities, a warrant was obtained on August 14, 2009, for John Anthony Daniels, Jr., 58 years of age, of Upper Marlboro, MD. He is charged with the following crimes:
CR 6-102 ((a)) Arson 1st Degree Felony- $50,000/30 Years
CR 6-103, Arson 2nd Degree Felony - $30,000/20 Years
CR 6-104 ((b)) Malicious Burning 1st degree Felony-$5,000/5 Years
CR 3-204 ((a) 1)) Reckless Endangerment Misdemeanor-$5,000/5 Years
The suspect was arrested on August 18, 2009, by Fire Investigators and transported to the Department of Corrections in Upper Marlboro. He has been released on a $500,000 bond.
Prince George’s County Fire Investigators worked relentlessly to determine the cause of the fire and to identify a suspect. They were assisted by the County Police Homicide Unit and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The ATF National Laboratory processed the evidence that has led to this arrest. “This was a total team effort throughout this investigation of a set fire that critically injured one of our firefighters,” stated Acting Major Scott K. Hoglander of the Fire/EMS Department Office of the Fire Marshal. He said, “This arrest is a direct result of the cooperation and assistance by Police Homicide and the ATF.”
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, “The Fire/EMS Department is fortunate to have an experienced and talented group of Fire Investigators that investigate crimes of arson. Through their diligence and with the assistance of other agencies an arrest has been made and we look forward to assisting with the judicial process to ensure that this person is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Fire Fighter/Medic McGown spent three weeks in the Burn Unit at the Washington Hospital Center followed by several months of rehab and follow-up treatments. He returned to a full-duty status in July.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Prince Georges County Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones stated, “This is a high honor and speaks highly of the dedication and commitment of the men and women that risk life and limb to keep our communities safe. This distinction also demonstrates the continued support of our elected officials to ensure we have the equipment required to reach this high level of certification.”
“I am proud of the countless hours of training, work and dedication that the members of the squad have committed to make the accreditation possible under my watch,” said Bomb Squad Commander, Captain Dale Ednock. He stated, “Each and everyone one of them should be commended for their professionalism and their dedication to the safety of the citizens and fellow Public Safety Personnel of Prince George's County.”
The Bomb Squad falls under the command of the Fire/EMS Departments Office of the Fire Marshal. This command, under the direction of Major Scott Hoglander, is charged not only with enforcement of explosives laws and mitigation of explosives hazards they also have the responsibility of the determination of origin and cause of fires and explosions, investigation and abatement of all fire and explosives incidents, and other emergencies within Prince George's County as outlined in Subtitle 11 of the Prince George's County Code. The Bomb Squad is comprised of an extremely talented and experienced group of individuals that can provide an array of expertise and a cache of technical and specialized equipment and tools capable of handling incidents.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The child was conscious while being treated and immobilized by paramedics. The Greenbelt City Police Department was also on the scene. An engine from the Branchville Fire/EMS Station assisted with setting up a landing area for the MSP Helicopter “Trooper 2” in the rear parking lot of Beltway Plaza Mall.
While supervision of young ones is the best line of defense to prevent injuries, injury prevention advocates understand that it is not always possible to maintain 100% vigilance over children, especially as they grow through the toddler years. There are some basic safety tips parents, caregivers and homeowners can take to help prevent these types of injuries. Safe Kids USA is an organization whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. They offer the following safety tips to prevent childhood falls:
All windows above the first floor should be equipped with window guards – preferably guards with emergency release devices in case of a fire.
Open windows that are not protected by a window guard, at the top only; or use window stops so they can only be opened a few inches.
Never rely on window screens to prevent falls. Window screens are designed to keep bugs out – not children in.
Supervise children at all times around open windows.
Move furniture away from windows and keep windows locked when they’reo closed.
Several volunteer and career firefighters and paramedics are being recognized for their role in locating and rescuing a 74-year-old man from the second floor of his burning Seat Pleasant home. The incident occurred on April 14, 2009, in the 6500 block of Seat Pleasant Drive. Fire/EMS units arrived to find a working fire on the second floor of the 2-story duplex with a report of a person trapped. Crews extended hoselines and initiated a search of the structure for the trapped occupant. Kentland Volunteer Fire Fighter Tim McCloskey located the male victim in a bedroom and was assisted by Fire Captain Kenny Fusco and Seat Pleasant Volunteer Fire Fighter Kevin Brenner in removing him from the house. Paramedics Clarence Godfrey and Chinnette Gibson provided advanced life support to the victim and were assisted by the crew from Landover Hills; Fire Fighter Steward Fowler and Matthew Weathersbee during transport to a Burn Unit. Fire Fighter Vincent D. Hill, driver/operator of Engine 808, encountered mechanical issues with his pump. This issue caused the engine to shut down. Being a veteran driver/operator he was able to quickly overcome the problem and restore the pump to working order. His quick thinking and fast actions allowed the crews to continue with the mission of rescuing the trapped victim.
These personnel are being recognized with the Fire/EMS Departments Emergency Services Award and will be under consideration to receive a Valor Award at the Public Safety Valor Awards ceremony held early in 2010.
Volunteer Fire Fighter Tim McCloskey, a member of the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department was recognized for his role in saving the life of a Seat Pleasant resident. Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Lt. Colonel Victor Stagnaro, Volunteer Commission Chairman John Alter, Commission Vice-Chair Vince Harrison, Kentland Volunteer Chief Tony Kelleher, Kentland Deputy Chief Pat Mann and several other members were on-hand to witness Volunteer Fire Fighter Tim McCloskey receive an Emergency Services Award from Fire Chief Eugene Jones. The award ceremony was held at the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department Station 833 in Landover on Thursday, August 13, 2009.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The family conveyed that the crew was “persistent in trying to revive my mother” and continually kept the family informed of everything they were doing and even took the time to find them in the hospital waiting room to provide them with an update after delivering the patient to the emergency room. In a letter to Fire Chief Jones, the family wrote, “My family and I wish to express our sincere thanks to LT. Brady and Fire Fighter Saunders for helping to ease the tensions we experienced that day.”
Fire Chief Jones stated, “I am extremely pleased with the actions of this crew and the level of EMS care they provided not only to the patient but to the distressed family members as well. I congratulate them on a job well done.”
An off-duty firefighter that placed herself in harms way to save the life of another person received well-deserved recognition today. On February 1, 2009, Prince George’s County Fire Fighter/Medic Rachel M. Edney was at an Edgewater restaurant located on the South River in the Edgewater area of Anne Arundel County. She responded to calls for help coming from the dock area and quickly realized that a man had fallen from the docks and into the freezing waters of the South River. Without hesitation or fear of her own safety she entered the water and was able to pull the drowning man from underneath the water to the surface. She held the man above water until additional help arrived.
Prince George’s Fire Chief Eugene A. Jones joined with representatives from Liberty Mutual at the Seat Pleasant Fire/EMS Station this morning, Tuesday, August 11, 2009, to recognize Fire Fighter/Medic Edney. Twenty years ago Liberty Mutual started honoring America’s firefighters with the prestigious Firemark Award. Emmett Johnson, Liberty Mutual Insurance Agent, while making the award presentation stated, "While fires and life threatening events are riddled with chaos and tragedy, they also spotlight the tremendous good displayed by our nations firefighters; good that is embodied by the selfless deeds of brave men and women who enter burning homes to save victims, or in this case dive into freezing waters to save a life regardless if they are on or off-duty. Such Deeds need to be recognized." He presented the award by saying, "With honor, I present you with the Liberty Mutual Firemark Award."
Fire Chief Jones presented Edney with a Fire/EMS Department "Emergency Services Award." During his remarks he said, "Despite being off-duty and not duty-bound to act, you responded without hesitation and your actions had a direct impact on saving a life." He concluded by saying, "It is with great pleasure that I recognize you for your actions. Without your rapid intervention, the outcome could have been very different. On behalf of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, the citizens and residents that we serve, and myself, I not only thank you but also commend you on a job well done."
Original Press Release: http://cms.princegeorgescountymd.gov/FireEMSNews/default.aspx?itemid=906
Sunday, August 9, 2009
With high heat and humidity upon us in Prince George’s County the men and women of your Fire/EMS Department want you to stay informed and take precautions to stay safe and healthy. Temperatures in the nineties, combined with high humidity may create a dangerous situation for children, the elderly, and those who suffer from chronic heart or lung conditions.
Your best protection is to stay well hydrated. Sweat, or water, allows heat to evaporate from your skin’s surface. If you become dehydrated, it is more difficult for your body to maintain an acceptable temperature. The best thing to drink is water. Gatorade or other sports drinks are also good. Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine. Limit heavy exertion when high levels of heat and humidity are present. High humidity levels make it more difficult for your body to dissipate heat.
• Avoid the heat
• Reduce activity
• Drink plenty of water
• Wear light colored clothing
• Drink plenty of water
• Take frequent rest breaks in the air conditioning or shade
• Check on relatives and friends, especially the elderly
• Increase time spent in an air-conditioned environment
• Eat smaller meals, more often
• Take cool baths
• Make sure pets have access to water and shade
Public Safety Dispatchers stated that the Fire/EMS activity level has been normal for a Sunday with a slight upswing in emergency medical calls. These EMS related calls may or may not be heat related in nature.
Friday, August 7, 2009
The first cable TV show of this dramatic incident will debut with “Most Daring” on the TRU TV Network. The episode is scheduled to air on Wednesday, August 19, 2009, at 9:00 PM. Check your local cable guide for channel listings and visit their website
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
About 40 Bomb Squad Technicians, Fire Investigators, Firefighters and Paramedics worked with the Campus Police Department and University Officials to limit access to the area. McKeldin Library was evacuated and a large perimeter extended into the courtyard mall.
Attempts to identify the contents using various technologies were not successful and a Bomb Technician had to physically examine it. After a through examination the Bomb Squad determined the device was non-explosive. While the package had a suspicious appearance it turned out to be “balloon weight” and considered a “good intent” call for service.
This type of device is believed to have been used to hold a large or several smaller helium balloons at a recent event. The Bomb Squad cleared the scene at about 4:30 PM and the Campus Police were in the process of returning the scene to normal.
Apparatus staffing continues to remain fluid and change as needed to better serve the citizens and residents of Prince George’s County.
Branchville Fire/EMS Station #811 is up today for the Volunteer Staffing Utilization Plan (VSU). They have responded on 1 ambulance call and one 1st due box with 5 personnel on the engine, so far today.
Landover Hills Fire/EMS Station #830 –Has a dedicated ambulance (A830) and a non-dedicated ambulance (A830B). The Medic Unit has been relocated.
Tuxedo-Cheverly Fire/EMS Station 822 will now house the former Medic 830. Medic 822 has been placed in service and responding from Station #822.
Bunker Hill Fire/EMS Station #855 is running dedicated staffing on Paramedic Ambulance #855. There is no full time BLS ambulance running from this station.
Paramedic Engine #841 will remain in service.
District Heights Fire/EMS Station #826 has dedicated Engine and/or Truck, Paramedic Ambulance, and/or Ambulance, based on daily staffing levels.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Beltsville resident confirmed as new fire chief
Eugene A. Jones seeks new volunteers, improvements for departments
Published on: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 – Prince George’s Sentinel Newspaper
By Nancy Royden
There is more than one way to fight a fire, and the new fire chief in Prince George’s County said it could be done without water, hoses and equipment.
“I love being able to help people. You’re helping people all the time and in all situations. You get paid and you have an impact on people’s lives,” said Eugene A. Jones, 48, the newly confirmed fire chief of the Prince George’s Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department. “I spent a lot of time in prevention. You can stop a lot of things.”
Jones said he caught the fire-fighting bug several years ago when he went to church and found out about an open position with the county’s fire department. He said the pay was better than what he was earning working in an input and output section for a computer firm, so his interest was definitely piqued.
On July 14 in the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro, Jones received unanimous confirmation by county council members to become chief. He had been acting fire chief since February and manages a $112 million budget and a department of 825 unformed and civilian personnel, said Mark E. Brady, chief spokesperson for the fire/EMS department.
Jones is a 1978 graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C.
Since graduation from the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Training Academy in Cheltenham in 1984, Jones has worked in several different areas for the agency.
His first assignment was working near Washington, D.C. as a firefighter at the station in Mount Rainier.
Jones said most of his career has been spent as a firefighter with the department was spent with the Oxon Hill Volunteer Fire Department.
After working in Oxon Hill, Jones did fire prevention work and said it is now called the Office of the Fire Marshal. Over the years, he returned to Oxon Hill and was a captain there.
Brady said Jones led the department’s peer mediation team for 10 years, and Prince George’s firefighters were among the first in the nation to establish the program which trains firefighters to provide peer mediation services to their colleagues.
During Jones’ tenure, he was assistant to fire chiefs A.D. Bell and Ronald Siarnicki.
His experience also includes being battalion chief of the county’s most southern battalion in Upper Marlboro and being an equal opportunity and disciplinary coordinator.
“He has received numerous awards, including the Fire Chief’s Special Achievement Award for his service to the citizens of Prince George’s County and his continued commitment to community service. This is the highest honor bestowed upon a firefighter,” Brady said.
As a battalion chief, Jones supervised the day-to-day operations of more than 50 personnel. He was also executive assistant to the public safety/homeland security deputy chief administrative officer, Brady said.
After 24 years with the department, Jones retired with the rank of major in 2007, and was subsequently contacted by Johnson to discuss the possibility that he could become the chief of the department.
Jones said the fire/EMS department certainly has financial concerns, and he and others are trying their best to keep the departments functioning as best they can.
“It has been interesting. There have been a lot of challenges, especially with the budget,” he said.
Jones said building inspections are vital to protecting property. This is one area the department is expanding. Community outreach personnel are being trained to be inspectors as well.
County Executive Jack Johnson said Jones has been an excellent asset to the department.
“Chief Jones has a comprehensive background in fire/rescue service and emergency preparedness and an impressive record of professional achievement,” Johnson said. “Prince George’s County is fortunate to have such a competent and dedicated individual as our fire chief.”
Jones said getting through the tough economic times would take sacrifice from everyone in the department.
“I like helping employees think about how what they do affects the bottom line,” he said. “My biggest thing is to recruit volunteers. We have one of the lowest numbers of volunteers in the area. Training is free. Equipment is free. You get to live your dreams.”
Children and adults who experience difficulty breathing should limit prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities.
By: Alan Suderman Examiner Staff WriterAugust 4, 2009
Budget woes in Prince George's County are forcing the county's fire department to make service cuts and rely more on volunteer firefighters to do the work of professionals.
Fire Chief Eugene Jones said the moves will cut overtime pay while reducing the amount of unnecessary overlap between nearby fire stations.
"We can no longer continue to operate as we have in the past," Jones said. "Financial challenges will affect many facets of our organization and require alterations to the manner by which we prepare to calls for service."
Fire officials said the county has had the second highest number of staff stations of any local government in the region.
Jones said the Chillum fire station will no longer offer fire service and its career firefighters will move to nearby stations. Instead, the station will house a paramedic unit.
Two other stations -- one in Capitol Heights the other in Riverdale Heights -- no longer will have professional firefighters but will remain open "based on volunteer participation," county officials said.
Fire department spokesman Mark Brady said the budget cuts may affect how quickly fire officials are able to respond to emergencies.
"We're always going to show up," he said. "Response times could be longer in some areas."
The county cut the fire department's budget by $2 million in the current fiscal year to about $110 million.
Brady said the department has been trying to use volunteers to fill gaps in staffing since April in an effort to cut costs. He added that the department, which is already "short staffed," may have to consider more cuts if the county's finances don't improve. There is currently no plan to hire new recruits to replace retiring firefighters, Brady said.
"Certainly, additional actions could be taken," he said.
Calls to the firefighters union were not returned, but Assistant Chief Antwan Jordan told WJLA-TV, Channel 7, that he is concerned that relying on volunteers could pose a serious threat to the community.
The county has about 750 sworn professional firefighters and 1,050 volunteers.
Monday, August 3, 2009
According to times recorded in the computer aided dispatch system the initial call came into Public Safety Communications from an alarm monitoring company reporting a general fire alarm at the fire station at 1:57 AM. This incident was subsequently cancelled by the Boulevard Heights Volunteer Deputy Chief at 1:58 AM. At 2:04 AM personnel from Boulevard Heights requested assistance for another pumper, which was immediately dispatched, to assist with extinguishing an engine compartment fire on the unit. Prior to the back-up engine arriving, additional units were requested and a full box assignment (7 or more pieces of fire/EMS apparatus and incident commanders) was dispatched at 2:05 AM. Fire/EMS units started to arrive at the scene at about 2:12 AM. The fire was extinguished at around 2:30 AM.
The fire apparatus involved is a 2001 Seagrave Engine purchased by Prince George’s County in November 2001 for $280,000. This unit is normally assigned to the Chapel Oaks Fire/EMS Station and has approximately 46,000 miles on the odometer and was on temporary assignment to Boulevard Heights while both of their engines are out of service for repairs. Personnel from the Fire/EMS Departments Apparatus Maintenance Division estimate damage at $75,000; mostly attributed to a damaged engine and electrical systems. While the cause of the fire is believed to accidental, the exact ignition is undetermined.